A story of my first track day.

ReplicaR

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This is a story of my first track day, which will hopefully inspire some of you to try hot lapping. It's a feeling like no other.

ReplicaR said:
Well, I came back yesterday. A day started off pretty good. I woke up early, grabbed the checklist off the table and ran over everything I had to take with me. Everything was up to spec. When I first got to the track, I had to tech in, but since I was running in a beginner group, I had to go to a mandatory meeting first, so I took off to that w/o getting my car teched. In the middle of the meeting, I get a text from my friend saying that my car is not gonna pass tech, because I don't have a battery strap. I thought my day was over, until someone said that there is an Autozone near by. I roll out real easy from the track to the local Autozone, and pick up a ratchet style strap to put around the battery. The car passes the tech, but I'm too late for my first session.


Now, since this was a performance driving school, rather then OTR, the beginner group was broken up into a few groups, and each instructor led a group through a series of exercises. The runs broke down like this.


Sessions:


1. Lead-follow: Instructor leads a pack of cars to show lines. Maximum distance allowed between cars is 1 car length.


2. Side by side: Same as above, only there is a car right next to you.


3. Passing: We are given two passing zones where we are allowed to pass. Idea is to present yourself, get the passing signal from the driver up front and take over off line.


4. Rolling start. Same as session 2 for two laps, then get single file, hot track conditions. Instructors are allowed to pass anywhere they want.


5. OTR


6. OTR


Anyway, back to the story. I miss my first session because my car was not passing tech, and I had to take off to Autozone to get everything straightened out. At this point, we are about to start the side by side exersize, and I have no idea what the track even looks like. I approach one of the instructors, Carlos was his name (the guy with orange 03 cobra), and ask him to drive my car to show me the lines. Now that I feel a little more confident, I run session two w/o having any problems.


During session 3, I did not get to pass anyone. Still fresh to the track, my main concern was to follow the leader the best I could to learn the lines. Unfortunately, I get held up by an S13 and S14, and we loose the instructor in the Evo. I was a little upset. Also, there was a Civic Si, that was asking for a pass, which I did give to him, but he could not see it because the stock wing, and tint on my window. All and all, the session was not all that great.


Session 4 starts off good, but for some reason the middle of the pack starts to get single file way before it's supposed to. At the middle of the track, they regroup, and we actually get a good rolling start. This is the first session I actually get to pass people. Passed a few 240s, and civic hatch with all the suspension in the world, but no power.


Sessions 5 and 6, I was much more confident in the car. At this point, I knew how to read the tires pretty well, heel-to-toe was right on the money, I knew most of the lines, even though I was still scared of one corner (off camber left , can you say oversteer and wheel hop). The HP+ pads and fresh rotors gave me the confidence to dive real late, and even rotate the car under the brakes (there is a corner that requires that). In the OTR conditions, I mad a lot of passes. Passed 3 240s, all with more power and grip than me, some old pile V12 jag, a few GTIs. My target car was a suspension and bolt on WRX wagon, which was running just as hard as I was. Every turn it pissed me off that he was able to get on power way earlier than me (****ING AWD). He was faster on the straights too, and the only place I was able to catch him was the really tight technical stuff, and under brakes, because he was on his way earlier than me.


Overall impression of the car:


Cooling is nowhere adequate for this shit. I was almost into the red, on the temperature gauge with heater blasting at full. Tires got greasy pretty quickly, but once they got there, they kinda held it, so I was able to tell exactly what's going on. Brakes were simply awesome. No fad at all, hard on them every corner that I had to. The reassuring squeak of the pads let me know that everything was going to be ok :) I've learned so much about the car, it was not even funny. Even in oversteer, it's still easy to drive, although it did exhibit a little bit of wheel hop in some corners under oversteer. The car made it through the day just fine, w/o an breakdowns, and got me home safely. MASSIVELY impressed by instructor's Cobra. That thing had amazing grip, and the car was on MXs. Whoever said that MXs suck, can ****ing blow me. I've seen what those tires are capable of in person.


All and all I had a lot of fun, learned a lot about my car, about driving, and can't wait till next time. Gonna do another track day on stock suspension probably just to get the lines down, and then start installing shit that I've got stored in my room. Here is one picture off my camera, and many more to come off my friend's camera later on monday.


5xnzoyu.jpg
 

RichV

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Was that Buttonwillow? (sp?) I'd love to run that track some day.

I wish my 1st time was as solid, but I was very wet behind the ears as they say....


Crisp mid-March 2006 day in Pueblo, CO. First event NASA Rocky Mountain ever put on. A lot of HPDE1 and HPDE2 cars out, the beginners were the majority. Had a few HPDE3 and 4, plus some TT cars. Very few race cars, most were SCCA guys running with the event. Me, experience was all straight line. Nitto drag radials on the back, nitrous bottle brackets and line flopping around in my trunk, stock 86 brakes, stock 86 suspension, and around 250HP on tap in my 86 Saleen.

The night before I bled the brakes for the 1st time, probably since the car was new. The brake fluid reminded me of Guiness beer. Autozone pads, cheapest front tires I could afford at Discount Tire, ultra-super-cool strut tower brace powder coated in white with the Saleen logo, I was gonna be a rockstar!! Imean, It's a friggin Saleen! It's built for this shiz-nit!! Tech passed without problems since the 86 passed it regularly at the strip.

I payed for a day of driving just to give it a shot. If I didn't like it, at least I could say I did it. Got to the track early, racin' down I-25 to Pueblo early Saturday morning. The driver's meeting must have had like 200 people, it was a zoo. I was very nervous, not sure of what to expect. I've never been with other cars on the track. What if I mess up and crash my car, or crash into someone else. What if I suck at driving? What if I forget the track? What if... What if... What if... The class was all about the track, the turns, what corner workers do, flags, and what to pay attention to before actualy driving. After filling up my head with abunch of stuff I was even more nervous about not knowing we had a half hour to get to grid. I met my assigned instructor, Bruce, and was to meet him on grid at 9:30am.

I saw the sea of cars I was driving with sitting at grid with more arriving as the time gets near, what do I do, I have NO clue what I'm doing. Bruce gets in my Saleen and hooks up the radio between our helmets. "So you ready?" he says. "Heck yea!!", but I really meant, I'm scared as shit, take it easy on me. We went out single file out of grid and on the track. Double yellow flag at corner station #1, WTF is that, "that's no passing whole track, wave to the corner stations".

After 2 laps of warmup the track went green and we were off. Braking zones, shifting, turn in, track out, the line, flags, a car coming up behind you, give a point-by, stay on the line, listen to Bruce as he tells me what I'm doing wrong, watch gauges, holy crap there's a wall I just got close to.

1.jpg


So to sum up, 3 more sessions like the 1st one, each a little more confident. And 1 session where I got to be the passenger with Bruce in his E30 M3 BMW, that was AWSOME!!! I was hooked, on the crack-pipe for good. Did 1 more event tha year with my SVO at La Junta Raceway. Following year I HPDE'd in a caged BMW with r-comp tires winning all my HPDE2 races (just kidding, no racing in HPDE2), got booted out to HPDE3, ran in the #3 group for the rest of the year until a Comp School became available at the last 2007 event, passed the School and got my provisional race license. My 1st race was that event in 2007, my SpecE30 BMW which I sold, 2008 race season I built my 89 Notch and learned to race in it. 2011 I started building my 94.

2.JPG
 

Steven

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Awesome story! I can't wait to get back into it all again. I've been out of the racing my car game for to long :(
 
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ReplicaR

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Was that Buttonwillow? (sp?) I'd love to run that track some day.

Cool story. My first track day was actually at Willow Springs, Streets of Willow course. Within a few months, I was at the Big Willow, going triple digits.
 

MadStang

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my first track day was the auto club roval. probably a bad place to start since it has so very little room for error but nonetheless it was a blast.
 

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